Tucson woman honored as Arizona’s longest serving foster parent | Local news – Tucson, Arizona

Tucson, Arizona 2022-05-22 19:00:00 –

When Mildred “Mickey” Murray began taking care of foster children in 1978, she thought her lungs would eventually slow her pace.

It took Murray reluctantly to retire for 44 years, with more than 200 children from the door of Tucson’s house.

“I wanted to continue, but my lungs are getting worse,” said Murray, 76, who was recently honored for being the longest foster parent in Arizona. She also received her first ever Lifetime Achievement Award. #LoveUp FoundationArizona Radio Station Johnjay & Rich started to help foster parents of children and Arizona families.

Murray began raising children within a few years of moving from New York City to Tucson in the mid-1970s. Her lungs were unhealthy, and Murray and her husband wanted the dry desert air to help.

The couple had one child, but Murray couldn’t do it again without serious health risks. Instead, they started raising their children and wanted to adopt one day.

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During those early days, Murray said they accepted the children who were eventually returned to their parents.

Murray was happy to continue as a foster mother, but her husband was not so enthusiastic.

“It was a roller coaster, and my husband said,’I really don’t want to experience this again. You love them, and they’re gone,” she said many years ago. I said about the conversation.

The couple eventually divorced and Murray continued to grow. Some of her children had only one or two days with her, and her other children lived with her for years.

From time to time, she said, the children she lived in lived with horrific experiences. She also said they were children and should not have been taken home in the first place, and she insisted on their return.

Once upon a time, her house had seven or eight children.

“There was a need for beds enough to give us an exemption,” she said. “It’s like a zoo and I loved it every minute.”

As she grew older, so did the children she took — in part because the rules for young children to be placed in a house with a pool changed. Murray eventually began helping teens through the Arizona Young Adult Program.

As you get older, you may forget your name, but you can always see your face.

“I think about children a lot. I had a lot of kids. Now I can’t say half the name, but I can see my face,” he said.

Mildred’s “Mickey” Murray is the foster mother of more than 200 Arizona children. She recently retired at the age of 76 due to health problems, and reluctantly.

Molly Bruce Photo Courtesy

Murray remembers helping children with disabilities learn how to walk and caring for children with problems such as spina bifida and cerebral palsy. She taught some children to swim and others to use the bus system. She took them to the amusement park and introduced them to food from around the world.

She helped the most determined children exceed their hopes. There was her attempted suicide, property damage, physical explosion, and even once attacked her. Still, she says she believes in them and their potential.

“We need to give credit to our children,” she said. “These children have a lot of courage and power.”

Along the way, a young man asked Mickey for adoption, and she adopted her. Her adopted daughter is now 17 years old.

“Her long history as a foster parent is one of the few in Arizona’s history that has survived many changes in child welfare,” DCS spokeswoman Cynthia Weiss said in an email about Murray. I am writing in. “Mikki lasted longer than all the employees currently working at DCS. She has the longest working staff at DCS for 42 years.”

What is her advice for the first day with a new caregiver child?

“Tell the kids that it’s safe. It may seem trivial, but they don’t believe you because it wasn’t their experience. Keep telling them that it’s safe, Please provide a safe and loving environment, “she said. “Soon they will come and you will see them prosper.”

She added, “You will learn more from them than they will learn from you.”

Reporter Patty Machelor (806-7754) or pmachelor@tucson.com

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